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A History of India, Volume 1 (1966)

by Romila Thapar

Series: A History of India (1)

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345353,439 (3.39)1
A history of India upto 1300 AD introducing the beginnings of India's cultural dynamics

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Comprehensive history of India from prehistory to the beginning of the Mughal period of the 1600s. This is a truly Indian history that is not preoccupied with the British Raj. It reports the dazzling complexity of the ancient and medieval Subcontinent and, incidentally, India's significance in the ancient world of the pharoahs, Alexander, and the Caesars — characters who are of course more familiar to us parochial Westerners.
  Muscogulus | Jul 29, 2012 |
I concur with joshteeters. There is a tremendous amount of history laid out here, and no lack of facts, names and dates. The author is obviously an expert in this field, and does have a sense of the underlying themes and influences on Indian history. Unfortunately it is perhaps inevitable in such a condensed - and dense - history that the broader themes are overwhelmed somewhat by the detail. There is very little room for those colorful stories that make bits of history stick in the mind. It presents as an endless succession of States, each not much different from each other, and admittedly this was the nature of Indian history. Cultural and geographical influences were continuously blended to produce new combinations of religion and politics out of the same basic ingredients. But with these limitations, this is an excellent overview of the 'parade' of history in India, and a good basis for further reading. But it is a hard slog at times. It is best leavened with some good maps, some more readable (but less ambitious) histories of historic Indian figures, and a some dipping into arts, music and literature (in the form of plays most readily) of the period. A worthy reference book, with its companion volume two. ( )
1 vote nandadevi | Mar 5, 2012 |
I read this text for a college course on ancient Indian culture and society. I found the book to be more than a little difficult. I'm not a new hand at reading history texts, and usually enjoy the activity, but I did not enjoy this book. The author's style of writing is dense and confusing, going from one point in time to another, then back to the original point in time, frequently without decent markers showing that that is what's happening with the text. She also tends to repeat things throughout the text, which heightens the confusion.

The maps also leave a lot to be desired - if you come to this text not being extremely familiar with the geography and place names of India, do bring an atlas or a decent set of maps. You'll need them.

I've given the book 3 stars, because if you really are up to sticking with it, with lots of flipping back and forth between pages to check facts, there's a lot of information here. It's just that sticking with it was, at least for me, not exactly pleasant. ( )
2 vote briefmissives | Jan 12, 2008 |
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For many Europeans, India evoked a picture of Maharajas, snake-charmers, and the rope trick.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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